One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
Emilia and Vittoria have been raised on stories. Stories of of witchcraft and stories of the Wicked, Princes from hell who their Nonna has told them to stay well away from, and instructions to never let their ‘Cornicello’s’ off, special protective charms they wear around their necks. They spend their days cooking at their parents restaurant, but its their nights where their activities differ. Vittoria tends towards the brighter parts of life, parties, romance, danger. Whereas Emilia is more than content to stay at home trying out new recipe’s. One night Emilia is forced back to the monastery to recover a basket she had left when she feels a pull she can’t explain, a pull that leads her deeper into the monastery, to a room with a man leaning over a dead girl, a dead girl who, when Emilia gets a closer look, turns out to be her sister Vittoria. Buried with grief Emilia knows she has to find out what happened to her sister, but the more she looks the more she realises that Vittoria was keeping secrets from her, big secrets, secrets that could effect the whole world. It will take Emilia working with that that she has been forbidden to go near if she is to find out the truth behind her sisters death. That is if she can survive the pull of the Wicked.
Emilia is such a strong character. She has always been the quieter twin, the one who preferred the shadows over the spotlight. But when it comes to avenging her sisters death, she will do whatever it takes to make sure the killer pays. It did take me a while to get into the book and to bond with her as a character as Maniscalco gives us a lot of introspection. The benefit of this is we get to work out the clues right along side Emilia, coming to the conclusions at the same time as the MC whilst she still manages to give us some spectacular plot twists.
Kingdom of the Wicked completely draws you into 19th Century Sicily with it’s gothic setting and mouth watering descriptions of food it is easy to find yourself swept away into the magical setting she creates. Filled with witches and demons as well as the Wicked, the seven princes of hell, each of which coincides with a deadly sin. We are introduced to four in this book, and each of their personalities screams the sin they are named for. Maniscalco wrote them brilliantly, each able to manipulate the emotions of those around them for pleasure, or more nefarious reasons.
If there’s one thing Maniscalco can do well it is writing a swoon worthy and heart tingling romance. I can see this one being a major slow burn and I am here for it. Wrath is a character that, as much as I didn’t want to trust him, I easily found myself falling for him ( I know, I’m a sucker for what is sure to be a torturous romance.) He isn’t a good guy, we see this from the start but it’s the little moments with Emilia where we see his softer side come out.
Anyone who was a fan of her Stalking Jack the Ripper series will be easily swept away on this fast paced fantasy, filled with adventure, romance and brilliantly described characters and setting. Though a little slow at the start Maniscalco clearly used this book to give us the rules of the magic she created as well as the world, and after the shock of an ending I am eagerly anticipating getting my hands on book two.